The Miami Heat happened to be in town for a visit to the White House, and they cruised over to no-longer-leaky Verizon Center to play the Washington Wizards. In a game of separate surges, the Wizards held on for the 114-97 win and handed the Heat their third straight loss.
Chris Bosh led all scorers with 26 points. LeBron James added 25 of his own plus eight boards and seven assists. And in the biggest footnote of all, Greg Oden made his debut with the Miami Heat and dunked twice in the second quarter for his first points in the NBA since 2009.
John Wall paved the way for Washington with 25 points and nine dimes. Trevor Booker turned in a double-double off the bench with 13 points and 11 boards. Nene continued his strong play with 19 points, nine assists, three blocks and two steals.
The Wizards (18-19) opened up a 29-4 early run as they shot 77 percent in the first quarter. Miami's defense got slaughtered in transition, and the speedy Wizards led by as many as 34 points.
Miami (27-11) finally turned it on midway through the third quarter and produced a 26-6 run of its own. After committing just two turnovers in more than a half of play, the Wizards coughed it up nine times in five minutes as the Heat closed the gap to nine.
But Miami could not get the stops down the stretch, and Washington held on for the victory.
This is the first time since LeBron James joined the Heat in 2010-11 that they've lost 3 straight games to teams with sub-.500 records— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 16, 2014
Player grades start at a C+ for a decent overall performance. That increases by a full letter grade for certain extraordinary accomplishments (30 points, 15 rebounds, high-IQ play, et al.) and decreases by the same margin for less than ordinary performance (worse than 25 percent shooting, lots of turnovers, especially awful defense, et al). We'll put role players on the grading curve.
Instead of gold stars and frowny faces, here are grades for every Heat player.
Key Player Grades
LeBron James, Power Forward
LeBron did not foul out, so that was good. He was his usual efficient self with 25 points on 8-of-18, plus 9-of-10 foul shooting. He flirted with a triple-double, as usual, but he came up two boards and three dimes shy.
James started off sloppy by committing four turnovers in the early going, but he took care of the ball after that and also snagged a pair of steals. The Heat never displayed much tenacity during this game, and if they were content to let this one slip by, then they probably should not have used James for 41 minutes in a 17-point loss.
LeBron also offered his take on Oden's return, and he placed it solely within a team context via the team's Twitter account, saying: "There's no pressure on him. He's a big body who can block shots and rebound, anything he can give us is a plus." That's true, but if Oden can manage to say on the court for more than 30 or so games, he could be a huge plus.
Dwyane Wade, Shooting Guard
Wade started hot by hitting his first four field-goal attempts. Then he must have come into contact with some liquid nitrogen because he got colder than Ice Cube. Wade missed his final seven shots and finished with just eight points in 33 minutes.
He did not attempt a free throw, though he did make himself useful with six rebounds and five assists. However, after he was replaced near the end of the third quarter, Miami reeled off a 16-2 stretch.
Chris Bosh, Center
Chris Bosh had a versatile night with 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting and 3-of-6 on triples. He hauled in seven rebounds, with three of them on the offensive end. But Marcin Gortat and Booker collected 20 boards between them, and the Heat were out-rebounded 41-35.
It was a strong effort from Bosh in terms of his scoring, but the Heat needed much better from him on the other end of the floor.
Greg Oden, Power Forward
Greg Oden saw his first minutes since December of 2009, but more incredibly, he also threw down his first NBA slam dunk that counted in over four years. It came just 17 seconds after he checked into the game. And then he dunked again!
Oden finished with six points and two rebounds in eight minutes. Who knows how long the 25-year-old's battered knees will hold up, but for now it's a fantastic story.
Will Oden be healthy enough to play in the postseason?
Norris Cole, Point Guard
Norris Cole was feeling kind of kleptomaniac-y on Wednesday; he pilfered three steals. He also added 15 points and seven assists, but he was hardly the picture of offensive consistency at the point.
Cole missed four of five shots from three-point range, committed more fouls (four) than anyone on the team, turned the ball over three times and got two of his shots blocked.
Shane Battier, Small Forward
Shane Battier is really smart, and he draws charges, and I'm sure he's a nice chap. However, he does not have much to offer on offense aside from waiting around to spot up for three. He's like Steve Novak with a degree from Duke.
Battier made one of his four attempts from downtown and missed his only try at two points. He added two rebounds, three fouls and a block in 19 minutes.
Then again, the alternative is Michael Beasley starting.
Rest of Bench
Ray Allen was even colder than D-Wade. He missed all five of his shots and was held scoreless over 25 minutes. This comes on the heels of a dreadful 2-of-14 night in the Jan. 10 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Allen's second field goal in that game only came in the final minute against a defense that didn't care.
Udonis Haslem was the only other bench player to see substantial minutes, grabbing six boards to go with two points in just under 21 minutes. Unfortunately, he also finished with a game-worst minus-21 floor rating.
Michael Beasley was pretty intent on shooting in his seven minutes on the court, attempting six field goals and converting three of them. He also tallied an offensive rebound. Roger Mason Jr. was also on the court for seven minutes, but you never would have known it.
James Jones scored six points in his two minutes of playing time, so perhaps Erik Spoelstra should've put him in for longer.
Rashard Lewis played less than a minute, but at least he wasn't like Chris Andersen, who joined Mario Chalmers on the injured list.
The Heat will continue their six-game road trip with a back-to-back at the Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Bobcats starting on Jan. 17. Miami wraps up the road trip on Jan. 20 with the Atlanta Hawks before returning home to host the Celtics the next night.
The Heat also got involved in a three-team trade on Wednesday, jettisoning Joel Anthony to the Boston Celtics to get "point guard" Toney Douglas from the Golden State Warriors, as first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
So you won't have Joel Anthony to kick around anymore, although he's scheduled to return in a Celtics jersey on Jan. 21.